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Nick Johnson, Hope, Luck

When Nick Johnson returned a phone call today, he was just about to board a plane for Las Vegas. He takes this trip every year -- a few friends, their wives, a festive weekend. Johnson's game is blackjack. He doesn't play golf and doesn't really care about the celebrity chef cuisine. "My wife has a hard time pulling me away from me from the table," he said.

Where Johnson is concerned, of course, any game that tests luck makes for an almost tragicomic reminder of Johnson's inescapable lucklessness -- but hey, he brought it up. So he brought the natural follow-up question upon himself. Which is: Does he ever win?

"No," he said. "They always seem to get me."

But let's not get carried away by giving Johnson's baseball career all that symbolic reinforcement. The Washington Nationals' first baseman is 30 years old, in the prime of his career. He's played just 38 games in the last two seasons, missing time with, first, a fractured femur and, next, a torn right wrist ligament. Such injuries have always plagued Johnson's career, a lesson on the difference between ability and durability. But through all the injuries, year after year -- he's had eight disabled list trips since 2000 -- there is another part in the Johnson cycle. Every year there is a point where he believes things will be different.

Right now, Johnson is feeling good. His wrist doesn't yet feel 100 percent, he said, but it's close. "It's not affecting how I'm swinging," Johnson said. "I haven't gotten outside, but I've been hitting live in a cage. Next week I'll go out on a field... Pretty much I'll just deal with what I've got, and get ready for the next year and come into the spring healthy and hopefully be on the field."

When Johnson is healthy, he remains an asset. Witness his 2006 season (.290 average, 23 HR, 110 BB) or even his .415 OBP last year, best on the team. Just as important, Johnson has a splendid glove and a steady demeanor; last year's Washington team could have benefited from both.

"Certainly when he's healthy he's one of our better players," Washington General Manager Jim Bowden said.

While the Nationals appreciate Johnson as a talent, they hesitate to trust him as a commodity. Last September, Bowden said that the Nationals would not enter the 2009 season with Johnson and fellow veteran Dmitri Young as their only options at first base. Washington's December bid for Mark Teixeira and its current interest in free agent Adam Dunn supports such an intention, but hasn't yet changed the first base picture. With spring training three weeks away, Johnson is the only established first baseman on the 40-man roster. The only other spring training invitees at that position: Young, currently fighting diabetes, and Brad Eldred, a 28-year-old with equal gifts for power and strikeouts. Josh Willingham, acquired from Florida in November, can also play first base but has been told he will be likely used as an outfielder.

Johnson's been busy this offseason -- his wife gave birth to a son, Nick Jr., in November -- but he's also caught the rumors. Oakland has expressed interest in trading for Johnson. Washington has listened, and might make a move if its depth chart at first base somehow changes. Speaking today, though, Johnson, expressed no particular desire to play closer to his Sacramento home. In fact, he said playing while close to home might have a downside.

"It might even make it a little bit weird because your mindset is a little different," Johnson said. "Usually you come home for the offseason, relax and turn it off. To be that close [to home] you'd have to -- I don't know, you can't turn it off and on. It's weird in my head."

So in the meantime, Johnson's status with the Nationals remains as tenuous as his health. But he's OK with that. He's lifting and stretching to improve his wrist. He's visiting a physical therapist three times per week. He plans on heading to Florida in the first week of February to begin workouts with Washington hitting coach Rick Eckstein. That, naturally, is the next trip he plans on making.

"One more thing," Johnson said before he finished his conversation today. "I'm gonna win this time in Vegas. You can put that in there."

By Chico Harlan  |  January 22, 2009; 6:42 PM ET
 
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Next: Boz on the Nats

Comments

The chilling words were when he says the wrist isn't just right yet. I fear what that might lead to. Hopefully, NJ will be ok and fill the void at first. Let us know if he wins at Vegas...perhaps that could signal a change in luck all around...I hope so.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 22, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Here's my question to The Constituency:

If you could sprinkle fairy dust on Nick Johnson and that made him impervious to injury, wouldn't that be better than almost any other solution they could come up with?

Posted by: wigi | January 22, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm wigi with that! Go Nick!

Posted by: VladiHondo | January 22, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Harlan: You overlooked Whitney as an additional 1B invitee to Viera.
Happy for NJohnson's little one, sorry he loses @blackjack. Since he goes to Vegas every year, wonder what the line is on the # of games he plays this year is, and would he play the over or under?

Posted by: BinM | January 22, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

If he plays the over, the Nationals need a 1B, Stat!

Posted by: BinM | January 22, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised NJ was so cordial, considering that his employer has spent the last 5 months vigorously trying to replace him.

Yes, a 100% Nick Johnson is a great stabilizing force on this team. And a better alternative than anything else out there, save Dunn giving up on his dreams of $10M/year for a starting LF position for a playoff team.

Posted by: tboss | January 22, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Once again, Boswell shows how absolutely on top of things he is.

Boswell today: "Remember, he still hasn't started swinging a bat after an injury last spring that he got when he checked his swing!"

Nick Johnson today: "It's not affecting how I'm swinging," Johnson said. "I haven't gotten outside, but I've been hitting live in a cage. Next week I'll go out on a field..."

Don't quit your Gibbsology day job, Boz.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 22, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I'd love having NJohnson as an anchor to the Nationals infield; If he can post 130GP, with 120 starts in 2009, great. His glove alone is worth eight wins over the season, and keeps the rest of the IF sane.
But let's be honest here - he projects at 66GP, based on his 2000-2008 history. That's barely over 40% of a season, on average. The question to be answered in Viera is: Could the combo of Casto / Willingham or a "cattle-call" of SYR players (Whitney / Eldred / DaMeat) cover for the loss on both offense & defense?

Posted by: BinM | January 22, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

>"I'm gonna win this time in Vegas. You can put that in there."

We're screwed.

Posted by: Brue | January 22, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

First of all, Chico, this is a very good piece. I do enjoy your writing. Hopefully you'll have more to write about soon.

Secondly, I should admit here that Nick Johnson is my favorite Nats player. No, seriously, he is. I'm realistic, so I won't shed tears if he's dealt.

I'd love a 2009 with a healthy Nick Johnson. I just don't think that should be Bowden's plan.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 22, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big Nick Johnson fan, so please don't get me wrong.
But shouldn't there be a website where we can place bets when Nick get's his 2009 season-ending injury?
Nick likes Vegas. But the odds are only in his favor when he bets on getting hurt, not when the casino pays out.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | January 22, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Here is where I'd like the Nats bring in Eric Hinske. He and Willingham would not be a bad platoon at first or even the OF. His home run stroke came back last year. An LH bat who can play the 4 corner positions. He was supposed to go to Japan, but the deal fell through. He's 30. sign for one year and option, and hope that Marrero develops or extend him if he works out. With Willingham and Hinske on the roster, you can afford to send Nick to Oakland, or hold Nick and release WMP (bench of 2 of Hinske, Willingham, and Kearns, Belliard, one of Hernandez or Harris, and a Catcher makes 13 position players, leaving room for 12 pitchers).

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 22, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Funny - Willingham has actually had reverse splits the past 2 years. Slightly last year, strongly the year before. Hinske has been much more effective against RHP in 05 / 06 /08 (07 he did not play regularly). Hinske is at least an average fielder in the OF.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 22, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Soapbox time...

Bill Ladson posted a nice Q&A today with Frank Howard at this link:

http://tinyurl.com/ynn333

If there's one signing the Nats need to make, this is it. Don't stop with just a statue... let's bring Hondo home where he belongs!

Posted by: Hendo1 | January 22, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else been having trouble signing in tonite?

Congrats to Nick on the new addition. I'd be on board with Wigi's fairy dust plan. Nick is one of my fave players, too. And it is a good piece, Chico. Thanks.

(Oh, and yes on Hondo.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 22, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

This wrist injury is looking like it will last as long as that leg injury. I find it hard to believe that is takes this long to recover from such an injury. Unfortunately it is more of the same. This guy will not be our first baseman this year. I think Nick has played his last game with us.

Posted by: mjames0 | January 22, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Great piece.

Can you do the same thing with Dmitri? How has his off-season gone? Did he make progress with diabetes and his, uh, weight problem? Any support from the team (a trainer? a dietitian? a doc?)? What does he think about living in Syracuse?

Has HE picked up a bat in the off-season?

How's his dad? Kids?

What are the chances of a second "Comeback Player of the Year Award"?

Dread

Posted by: nattydread1 | January 23, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

I doubt there are many Nats fan who aren't pulling for Nick Johnson. Thanks for the piece, Chico. But I do agree (and have said it before) with jca-Crystal City that Hinske would be a good guy to sign. Zim got hurt last year -- it's part of the game. We need bench depth. We already have Belly. Pennant winners (and where was Hinske last year?) have to have guys that can contribute when they are not playing regularly -- and when they have to play every day. But we also need starting pitching, so where's that coming from ???

Posted by: nats24 | January 23, 2009 2:32 AM | Report abuse

Can't wait to see how many more games above .500 the O's finish, as opposted to the Nats.

The Expos are looking at another record-level sub-.500 record. Yikes!!!

The Expos, I mean Nats, only wish they could have a player like Markakis locked up for so long.

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 23, 2009 4:13 AM | Report abuse

O's 4 Ever!!!!

Nats 4 Stinky-town.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 23, 2009 4:22 AM | Report abuse

Hunt you down without mercy.

Hunt you down all nightmare long!!!!

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 23, 2009 4:23 AM | Report abuse

Poopy McPoop = Sleepless in Baltimore

Posted by: driley | January 23, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Can we get a hose in here to clean out all the poop, please?

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | January 23, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Good to know that trolls still have no trouble logging in (as it were) and posting serial messages.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Martinsburg?! (special to JiM)

http://www.misschatter.com/janf/index.php/2009/01/22/i-found-martinsburg-wv/#comment-76809

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Just found this one-time event on the Cubs site. Wouldn't it be cool if the Nats did something like that?

"Hey Dad, Wanna Have a Catch?"

Have an afternoon of fun in the outfield grass of the Friendly Confines at the "Hey Dad, Wanna Have a Catch?" event.

Families and fans of all ages have the opportunity to spend 50-minutes playing catch in the outfield, running the bases or chatting in the dugouts of beautiful Wrigley Field.

Participant tickets include a commemorative t-shirt, photograph, baseball and lunch in the Friendly Confines Café. Each participant entering the field will need a participant ticket.

Guest tickets are also available and include access to the stadium and lunch only for those family members who wish to watch but not participate on the field. Children three and under do not need a guest ticket to enter.

All proceeds benefit Cubs designated charities.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Of course, I'd include Moms, Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents, too. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Dear Lerner Family:

Perhaps you feel that your fans do not need to know, or perhaps you think you have communicated your direction already, but as a faithful fan of the team, I have come to realize that I cannot tell whether you have a well formed strategy for the team or not.

In 2006 we learned that Stan Kasten's participation likely meant that the team would embrace a plan that included a) accelerated development of the farm system, b) a focus on delivering a new baseball park, c) emphasis on trade over free agency to acquire players, and d)limited free agent signings as needed. We were led to believe that a return on investment could come as early as 2008, but certainly by 2009.

Perhaps some of this information was other's interpretations rather than your own beliefs or philosophy. It seems reasonable that the time has come to either re-affirm your belief in this philosphy or correct our interpretations of your strategy.

If you still believe this is the right direction, I would imagine you are less than happy with the progress your organization has made to date. While the organization has been extremely unlucky in terms of injurry, it seems clear that there have been missed opportunities to improve. By bargain shopping the team found very few bargains the past two years - buying lesser quality commodities that don't work out. For example, LoDucca, Estrada, Young, Machowiak, and Lopez turned out to be poor investments. Even the relative successes like Odalis Perez, Tim Redding, Rafael Belliard, and Joel Hanrahan have netted only marginal return. Net result: poor record, low return on investment, fan disastisfaction, and low/no eccretive value in ticket sales, merchandising, and media revenue.

At this point it seems appropriate to renew your vows and demonstrate some personal leadership and involvement - even if only for show. You personally can generate additional media coverage for your team. Speak out, demonstrate action, show commitment. Complete the Zimmerman negotiations, acquire additional players, offer an interview to the Post, bully MASN into better coverage, invest/subsidize more Nationals coverage on MASN or other local media, and ensure that draft picks are signed. Give Bowden, Kasten, and Acta the assets they need to succeed.

I greatly appreciate the investment and work you have given to us to date, but take the challenge to do better. Take it now. Please.

Sincerely,

NatBisquit.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 23, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Well said, natbiscuit. But we got Ronnie Belliard. :)

Posted by: NatsNut | January 23, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"His wrist doesn't yet feel 100 percent," was the only thing I saw in this piece.

(heart sinks)

Posted by: NatsNut | January 23, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

This post season has been relentlessly demoralizing.

Our solution to the FO claim that Milledge is best suited to being a corner outfielder is to sign someone to play the position we would have moved him to, and not sign anyone to take over in centre, despite two MLB ready centre field prospects being dealt this post season, and one of them continuing to be shopped.

Our solution to the lack of pitching is to sign two fixer uppers, and state that we will not delve into the free agent market.

Our solution to the lack of power is one signing of a man who once hit 20 HR. Two years ago.

And our response to the lack of a first baseman is, so far, Matt Whitney.

Our efforts to furthering youth development is a woeful showing in the international market, picking a draft pick who was unwilling to sign and totally ignoring the Japanese players looking for an MLB home.

This team needs a new direction and new leadership. I used to think that we were in the midst of growing pains but, it is becoming more and more obvious that we simply pick a philosophy to match our latest act of idiocy.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

And the fact that our beat reporters are starting the damn excuse machine is painful. Two articles this week promoting the outfield talent, and looking at the possibility of Nick Johnson coming back. Things that at the start of the post season were considered huge problems and now we are supposed to believe that things are suddenly, with no changes, right as rain?

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

natbisquit

I agree with your letter except for that last paragraph. They have given us nothing to date.

I still believe the city should sue the Lerners for breach of contract. They are supposed to field a major league team and they haven't.

Posted by: mjames0 | January 23, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

NatBisquit,

Well said. I think a lot of us die hard fans feel the way you do (I know I do).

I have a sinking feeling that attendance will be way down at Nats Park this year. With the economy, a poopy product, and a very unactive FO, people are going to stay away.

The Lerners have clearly crapped the bed when has come to building excitement in this town for their investment of a baseball team.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 23, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I agree we need to do something, but as I've said before, I'm not sure signing FAs right at the moment is the answer to all of our problems. Take a look at MLBTraderumors.com. The news is all about teams chasing backup catchers and washed up bench bats. It's very quiet out there. Nobody else is doing anything, either.

Aside from signing Hudson (and the delay there may be due in part to his wrist injury), the best course for this team may be to wait until Spring Training. We need to see if Nick, Dukes, Kearns, Willingham and Hill are healthy. If by some miracle they are, we have a potentially decent and deep team:

Hudson, 2b
Milledge, cf/lf
Zimmerman, 3b
Johnson, 1b
Dukes, rf/cf
Willingham/Kearns, lf/rf
Flores, c
Guzman, ss

Break out the pixie dust. It goes well with Kool-Aid.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 23, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"I still believe the city should sue the Lerners for breach of contract. They are supposed to field a major league team and they haven't.

Posted by: mjames0 | January 23, 2009 9:56 AM "

Well, if you want to go that route, then the city needs to fulfill its end of the deal as well, which is to put butts in the seats to watch the major league team. You're a self-proclaimed long-time Expos fan, right? How many times has your butt been in a seat at RFK or Nationals Park? How many of your dollars (US or Canadian) have you contributed to the cause? My guess is zero. Yet you see fit to complain only about ownership and nothing else related to the team. As I said the other day, sounds like sour grapes to me. Since you have nothing but an emotional relationship (tenuous at best) with this team, if you're so unhappy why not just switch your loyalties to one of the other 29 teams?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

We should be adding youth by dumping experience, even if it means eating salary.

Bob, look at that line up. Five of those guys will not be around for the rebuilding process. Johnson is a nice luxury item, but not a starter anymore. That is a fact the Nat's acknowledged, then went back on because they couldn't get a deal done. Willigham and Kearns are just uninteresting veterans filling space and blocking youth and Guzman is a SS with poor range, can't walk and can't steal.

A line-up that poor would be acceptable if 7-8 of the guys on it were Millege/Flores's who had potential to be around producing for 5+ year. But what you are looking at is a team that's too old to be building and too bad to be competing. It's Jim Bowden managerial reign in a nutshell.

Free agency is a good band-aid in that it allows us to patch some holes until we are up on our feet (Dunn is a classic example of that), but all in all this is a terrible organisation. That line up might only be 'bad' but as an organization we are terrible.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I know! If we used Pixie Stix, we could make Kool-Aid with them.

---

Break out the pixie dust. It goes well with Kool-Aid.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

nunof1

You're joking right?

No way did mjames0's comments deserve that level of bile.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Bob L.

As much as I respect and agree with the vast majority of your posts, I can't go along with this one.

The fact that no one else is doing anything is not the answer. This team has some potential, yes. But a lot of that talent is either not dependable or is unproven young talent.

The Nats need to sign some proven veteran players to mix in. They don't need to be the Yankees but, they need to add something to the roster.

The Lerners have a sinking ship on their hands and they need to spend money to make some money. Bascially standing pat with a roster that lost 102 games is not going to create excitement and put cheeks in the seats at Nats Park.

I didn't want to believe it at first but, I'm starting to get the feeling that the Lerner's are great Business people that are going to be awful team owners. I hope I'm wrong and I will probably never jump ship because I'm an extremely loyal fan in every sport but, man, am I ever getting frustrated with "the plan."

Posted by: Section505203 | January 23, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing wrong with signing free agents, even if you believe in youth development. If the Nat's think that Milledge is no good in centre but too light a bat for the corners flip him for a guy like Gonzalez and sign Dunn for left. If they think Hernandez has a shot, sign Hudson and play Hernandez at short.

The problem with the Lerners/Stan/Bowden is they aren't committing to 'The Plan'. And when the farm can't provide a prospect they fill the gap with trash. Fair enough Flores wasn't ready last year but Estrada? Really? Sure they need power from an outfield corner but Kearns? Willigham?

It's all wrong.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

hey nunof1

I can chose to support who i like. I live in NYC and I am not going to travel down to watch these losers. I buy the Baseball cable package every year to watch this crap. That is enough support in my opinion. I feel for the average person in DC who directly or indirectly is taxed to support this excuse for a team . I think the city should sue them .

You can say what you want about the NY teams they TRY to field a team. The Nats are not trying. They are going through the motions. The Expos in their darkest days were never this bad and they tried to improve.

I have been a fan of this team before you even picked up a baseball. I know more about this team than you ever will . So zip it. If you feel things are just fine with Nats baseball then you maybe you do not deserve a team, maybe Potomac is more your level.

Posted by: mjames0 | January 23, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Point taken, mjames, but no fair dissing the 2008 Carolina League Champions! ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Whoever is going to the lunch today at Nats Park, please twist their arms behind their backs and demand answers--er, ask some good questions and let us know what (if anything)you find out.

Posted by: Section109 | January 23, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

NJ is one of those guys who you really like on your team, but the instability really hurts the team's ability to plan. He will never be healthy for a full season. Never. He came back last spring training having lost a ton of weight and his wrist cracked. Who would've thunk it? Two years prior, he hurt his heel stepping on home...

Just like other players need a change of scenery, so does NJ. When that day comes, I will wish him the best and hope he remains injury free on his new team.

Posted by: jctichen | January 23, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

nunof1,
I have been a part of this forum, almost since its inception. And have heard many diatrides against the Lerners,Bowden, the team, etc. Far too many, I might add.
Now I don't agree with much of what mjames says, it's an opinion like many others expressed on this blog. I wonder why he is the main target for your attack? Because he was an Expo fan, not deserving of a negative opinion?
Boy I'm sure glad I've generally logged only positive comments about the team and its management. Otherwise, as a former Expo fan, and someone who can't afford a plane ticket to attend many games, thereby not supporting the team finacially, might be subject to ridicule as well.
Jeeves


Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 23, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

If they could do a three-way trade with Oakland and Kansas City involving Nick, pehaps they could get KC's Ka'aihue, since the idea of getting Barton seems far-fetched and KC will be giving most of their 1B at-bats to Jacobs, Butler, Teahen, or Shealy. Dunn is not down the point where he's going to play 1B for the Nats. Even with some kind of mess at first, I think the best gamble we could take is on Ben Sheets, if he can pass a physical. A legit #1 starter, pushes Lannan down to #2, the rest are ???? anyhow, but probably enough competition to compete, especially if Zimmerman gets some AAA experience and is ready later.

Posted by: mockcarr | January 23, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I think the idea of getting Ka'aihue is fantastic but the Nat's have shown no interest in him. We've all tabled the idea but from office seems unaware.

They need to trade for someone though...

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Any lover of baseball is okay in my book, Jeeves and other Expos baseball buddies!

(Well, maybe not Yankees fans...;-)).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"I wonder why he is the main target for your attack? Because he was an Expo fan, not deserving of a negative opinion?"

No, because all he ever writes here or anywhere else is negative opinions about the Nats. And he writes them daily. Lots of them. He calls himself a fan of the *Washington* Nationals, yet all he does (as he himself just admitted) is sit in NYC and watch them on cable, which also provides 29 other teams to watch, so one has to wonder why he chooses to watch the Nats if all he can find out of that experience is negativity. He fails to realize that the Montreal Expos no longer exist and yet seems to think he's been a fan of the Washington Nationals longer than I've been alive, even though he's not even in DC and I've been here all my life, stretching back to Senators I. And gosh, I really reamed him with that attack, didn't I? I'm a basic internet subscriber who has access to all of the comments here, and I chose him to lay a nasty paragraph on. As a basic cable subscriber who has randomly picked one team to lay years worth of bile on, I think he ought to be able to handle it. Don't you?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Barton is coming off of hip surgery...

Do anyone think that Redding signed with the Mets to be a long reliever? Good luck with that, Tim.

Posted by: jctichen | January 23, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if KC can keep all those guys, I suspect they'd rather give up Teahen or Shealy, and probably they'd still be better than 62 games of Nick and 100 of zero sum gain. But if Keith Law's idea of the Nats minors organization is shared by other teams, we don't have much to trade. So if Oakland's interest in Nick at least gets you something, you have to be serious about pursuing it, I just can't guess it's something that helps the Nats as much as a team like KC that has an obvious glut at the position we need. I really don't understand why Oakland would want him, unless they are resigned to a lot of Cust in the OF.

Posted by: mockcarr | January 23, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

New Boswell column up on the WP home page.

Posted by: Bethesdangit | January 23, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hey, he *said* he's from NY. I'm not worried.

The problem is the environment it generates for the rest of us, when somebody (like, occasionally me) can't keep a civil keyboard in our posts. So sometimes, some of us will object to ad hominem attacks. There's always a line between acceptable and rude, and that's how it gets drawn. If he can take criticism of his negativity, you can take it over yours, non?

***************
As a basic cable subscriber who has randomly picked one team to lay years worth of bile on, I think he ought to be able to handle it. Don't you?
Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 11:49 AM

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 23, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

but on the stadium, the city doesn't owe the team squat. We're *customers*, they're *a business*. If they can't sell their product, they'll change it, or go broke.
They're contractually obligated to put a major league team on the field, but we see now we should have been more specific. It's like Toonces -- he can drive a car; he's just not very good at it.
We, OTOH, are obligated to pay for our tickets if we want in. That's it.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 23, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the heads up, Bethesda.

Here's a link for clicking purposes:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/23/AR2009012301740.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

While I'm at it, a link to a Nats-related Bog item:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2009/01/know_your_fans_nats_fan_david.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Nunoff1

I stand to be corrected. You have the floor. Please show me where I am wrong in my assessment. Do you truly believe this team has been managed properly?

I will be positive when I see them make an effort to improve the team. All I am looking for is an effort. This "bottom feeding" strategy of Bowden's is bush league and does not work.

I have followed this team for 30 + years. I am not changing just because they are now owned by some incompetent dolts. Maybe they will be sold to some knowledgeable baseball people. One can hope. I guess Peter Angelos must be happy with this mess. He is making a ton of money from the rights sale and he only has AAAA competition at best.

Posted by: mjames0 | January 23, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

>>We should be adding youth by dumping experience, even if it means eating salary. Bob, look at that line up. Five of those guys will not be around for the rebuilding process. Johnson is a nice luxury item, but not a starter anymore. That is a fact the Nat's acknowledged, then went back on because they couldn't get a deal done. Willigham and Kearns are just uninteresting veterans filling space and blocking youth and Guzman is a SS with poor range, can't walk and can't steal.

>>The fact that no one else is doing anything is not the answer. This team has some potential, yes. But a lot of that talent is either not dependable or is unproven young talent. The Nats need to sign some proven veteran players to mix in. They don't need to be the Yankees but, they need to add something to the roster.

*****

Soundbloke, and 505/203, my argument is that our best option might be to hope that some or all of our ill-fitting pieces get healthy and produce – this would give us a bridge to the youth we all hope is coming and would also provide assets to trade for better fitting pieces. As Brian noted, signing free agents (who also are unlikely to be around for the rebuild) costs us the very draft picks that are supposed to fuel the rebuild. I certainly am not advocating doing nothing, but I am suggesting that it might make sense to see what we have during Spring Training, or even through the first half of the season, and then make adjustments through trades. Sure, deal as many assets as we can for players that fit better, are younger, or both. Keep our draft picks until we’re 2-3 free agents away from fielding a contender. And at that point, use the money that’s come off the books to sign a few big ticket FAs. At that point, the draft picks are worth less both because they’re lower (since the team is better) and because we’re focused on contending now instead of in 3-5 years.

(Mmmmm ... Pixie Stix.)

Posted by: BobLHead | January 23, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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